June 20, 2018

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The Three Steps to Client Development

The single greatest problem with most recruiters in the search business is that they fail to master the art of developing new clients effectively. It’s also the single greatest need if a recruiter is going to learn how to thrive, which is possible even in a down market. It’s kind of like a scuba diver that is enthusiastic about scuba diving, but he has yet to master the art of properly breathing through the oxygen equipment. He’ll enthusiastically drown as he enthusiastically goes on his next diving trip. His intentions are there, but it just doesn’t work for him. The intentions of winning are there for many recruiters right now, but they have yet to master their “marketing equipment” properly.

Client development is based on developing a gravity approach…being able to attract clients to you. It is more of a marketing approach on a macro level, with some sales techniques thrown in to actually bring closure to the event. But the bottom line is that people are either going to hire you or not…they will make the decision on their own, and if you push them, they will push back. But here are three things you can do to influence the decision of a buying decision-maker:

  1. Emphasize the value you will create for them. Forget about filling the position. Find out what the end result will be if you place a real performer in their organization. What will be the net impact to the organization? What will be the realized outcome that is achieved?

  2. Find out how the hiring manager will personally benefit from the hire. All of us are motivated by our own agenda. We’re human beings, for crying out loud. We’re wired to have a hierarchy of needs. The whole secret of selling search is to identify what that agenda and personal benefit of the hiring manager is, should the position be filled with a star. Ask the question, “Joe, what happens to you personally should we find a real star?” That probably means his department reaches its goals, he gets promoted, and the world is a better place in his view.

  3. Find out what the negative impact is should the position be unfilled…or even worse, be filled with the wrong candidate. Not just the negative economic impact, but the negative impact of the negative impact. “What happens to you if the wrong candidate is hired and you don’t find out for six months?” This is a realistic consideration that your prospective client has probably considered, and to bring it up to him or her is to show them that you understand the strategic importance of filling the position.

Remember that you sell more search services if you can draw people to you rather than chase after them. By asking the right questions, by viewing your role as a “management consultant” rather than a “headhunter”, you automatically separate yourself from your competitors and place yourself in a partnering role with your prospect rather than a selling role. And maybe some day, if you close enough deals, you can learn to scuba dive after all.

-Scott Love

Copyright © 2004 Scott Love

Scott Love is a syndicated columnist, an author, and the most frequently-published trainer in the search and staffing industry. He improves the performance of recruiters and recruiting managers regardless of the economy. To book him for your next meeting, call him at 1-828-225-7700. His speaking clients include large search firm franchises, independently owned staffing and search firms and major staffing industry trade associations.